Those of us who work with persons with head injuries on a daily
basis are aware of the prevalence of brain injuries in today's
fast paced world. Members of the general population are often
shocked to hear the staggering statistics.
Contact sports including football, hockey and boxing have long
been known to put their participants at risk of a brain injury.
Education has contributed to an increase in children wearing
helmets when cycling and skateboarding. Not until fairly recently
have helmets been recommended for tobogganing and skiing, and are
now required for cycling, skateboarding/scooters. This only makes
sense. Over 500,000 Canadians sustain a traumatic brain injury
(TBI) each year. Brain injury is the leading killer and disabler of
Canadians under the age of 40. Cyclists wearing helmets reduce the
risk of suffering a brain injury by 88%.
Soccer, a seemingly 'harmless' sport given that it is
non-contact, is very popular among children, but actually poses a
significant danger for brain injury. Without any protection
whatsoever, children are encouraged to 'head' a ball to
redirect it, or bring it down to again control it with their feet.
Children are also in danger of getting hit in the head by a ball
kicked by another player in close proximity, not to mention being
in the wrong place at the wrong time and receiving a sharp kick to
the head by a cleat. These events can occur during a game or
Concussions sustained by kids playing soccer are common enough
to warrant concern. Of course this is true for a player of any age,
but 30% of all TBIs are sustained by children and youth, many of
them while participating in sports and recreational activities.
It is necessary that appropriate treatment be given to minimize
the effect of the concussion, however recognizing the symptoms in
the first place is a priority. The Ontario government introduced a
plan to deal with concussions occurring while children are at
school in January 2015. While a teacher is not expected to diagnose
a brain injury, they are expected to recognize its signs, remove
the child from the activity, and ensure that they are seen by an
appropriate health care professional for diagnosis and
Rowan's Law, named for the Ottawa high school student who
died from concussion related injuries in 2013, was made law last
week by the Ontario Legislature. Bill 149 establishes an Advisory
Committee that will consider how to implement the twelve
recommendations made by the Coroner's Jury that addressed the
circumstances of Rowan's death and will make other
recommendations dealing with the prevention and treatment of
Ontario has shown itself to be a leader in educational and
prevention initiatives. The hope is that the rate of TBIs will
decrease as a result. Currently, the cost burden on the province is
between 2 to 3 billion dollars annually. The public must continue
to be educated about the proper use of helmets and other protective
headwear, how to immediately recognize symptoms and the importance
of timely treatment in order to minimize long-term effects.
In Irwin v. Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, 2015 ABCA 396, the Alberta Court of Appeal found that the "ABVMA" failed to afford procedural fairness to a veterinarian undergoing an incapacity assessment.
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